We got a relatively early start when Bethany shuttled us to High Bridge along with Gypsy. The trail was well-trodden through the forest first thing, and made its way gradually uphill all the way to Rainy Pass almost 20 miles away. It was a good way for Chug to get back into hiking after a week – a fairly gentle trail with little in the way of mud and rocks. The weather was perfect for hiking too, warm in the sun but chilly in the shade.
Most of the hike was in the forest, passing by several established campgrounds for hikers and horses. The first 16 miles out of Stehekin are in the North Cascades National Park, home to more glaciers than any other park in the lower 48, but the trail winds through a valley for the duration of its journey through the park and much of the time the views up to the mountains are obscured. Still, the views out towards green forests when we came to a break in the trees were impressive. It’s cool to see the distinction between the green forest and the autumnal colours that dot the landscape where there are deciduous trees.
Later in the day we met One Step, who I haven’t seen since the Sierra. I’m still meeting new people as well, even at this stage in the hike. People who started around the same time as me and who must have been within 10 miles of me for several weeks.
We figured we could make it as far as the Rainy Pass trailhead by the end of the day, although it looked like we would be arriving as the daylight was waning. It meant a darkening forest and dropping temperatures. Crossing some of the creeks, the logs were damp and slippery and we had to balance speed with caution. Sadly that didn’t apply to the dry trail, and we ploughed straight on towards camp, oblivious to the wasps until we walked through them, getting stung yet again. Washington wasps are way worse than Oregon where we saw hundreds of them every single day. Here there aren’t as many, or at least they aren’t so obvious, but they’re much more aggressive.
Reaching Rainy Pass, evening was drawing in. We met Pie, who had been waiting a while for Roulette and Katie and was wearing everything she owned in an effort to stay warm. She headed off up the hill after greeting us, wanting to get warm again before setting up camp. The trailhead has lots of space for camping though, and is proving a popular spot. Big Fish and Firecracker showed up after us, joined by Foxtrot, Mama Squirrel and several other hikers. It’s cold though and I’m expecting it to be damp under the trees. The one thing that might help is proximity to the highway which might stay warm a bit longer. It’s not doing much right now.
Camping: Mile 2600, Rainy Pass